[Clarification: “Driving buses around almost-unused streetcar turnback loops” is an example of institutional inertia rather than political interference by the council. The canonical recent example of council interference is the continuation of Route 42 after Central Link entered service and Metro staff proposed its abolition.]
Ever wonder why I write so much about reliability, simplicity and efficiency in our bus network? It’s because much of our bus network is terribly designed, and it’s costing us in money, ease of use, service frequency, and ridership.
The map above distills the information contained in an internal Metro spreadsheet STB has obtained, which provides a fully costed-out schedule for a budget neutral restructure of bus service on the extremely busy Queen Anne / Downtown / First Hill / Madrona corridor. I alluded to this in last week’s discussion of Route 4.
It illustrates a point I’ve made in previous discussions, namely that Metro knows how to build good bus networks, but due to a combination of institutional inertia and political interference by the King County Council, Metro is still driving buses around almost-unused streetcar turnback loops from a century ago. What’s missing is not the smarts to redesign these routes, but the leadership to implement the necessary changes.
This schedule was developed as part of the internal deliberations for the potential 600,000 hour cut scenario that has been avoided thanks to the passage of the $20 CRC. This funding reprieve must not cause Metro to lose its new-found zeal for efficiency restructures such as the one described above, that are overwhelmingly in the interest of riders and the taxpayer, but are certain to draw organized protest from the small number of people for whom the current configuration happens to work very well.
Over the course of the next week, I’ll present the spreadsheet and get into the nuts and bolts of how and why this schedule works, along with other improvements that this restructure would enable.
For readers unable to read the map, a textual summary of its contents after the jump.
- Route 4 is deleted in its entirety.
- Route 3’s terminus in North Queen Anne is moved to Seattle Pacific University, the current terminus of the 13.
- The northern section of Route 2 (but not the 2X) is deleted.
- The southern section of Route 2 is moved to Madison from Seneca, live-looped downtown on the Madison/Marion couplet at 1st Ave. The current schedule would be maintained.
- Route 3 would operate from early morning to 10 PM as a frequent service route from SPU to Madrona, every 10 minutes in the peak, every 15 minutes at other times.
- Route 13 would operate at with the same frequency and span of service as Route 3, from SPU to the Central District (23rd & Jefferson) during weekday daytimes, to Pioneer Square (3rd & Main) at all other times.
- These two routes would be interlined at all times to ensure even headways downtown, providing double frequency (i.e. 5 mins peak, 7.5 mins off-peak) downtown and, during weekday daytimes, to First Hill and the Central District.
- The 2X is extended from the current terminus to SPU then west on Nickerson.
- For the sake of clarity in this textual description, I have used the current route numbers, but the map avoids using route numbers as, if this schedule were implemented, route numbers would probably be changed.
126 Replies to “The Bus Network We Could Have”
If only there were a way to eliminate the left turn from 3rd Avenue to James Street. Revising the route to Yesler and approaching Harborview from the south rather the north should smooth out operations on 3rd Avenue. That is one of the strategies of revising the 2 Madrona bus via the Marion/Madison couplet which removes the left turn from 3rd Avenue at Seneca Street. Although I think a turn around loop on Western Avenue would be nice. Sigh – I can dream knowing these ideas require some capital in that it would extend the trolley network where no wire has gone before. It is unlikely the money could be found to wire these new sections by the time this proposal would go forward.
As one who has lots of time behind the trolley wheel on all those routes, and one who has been tilting at Metro windmills for 20 years on efficiency matters, let me chime in with my 3 cents worth.
Getting rid of the wire from 3rd to Harborview, via James is the one best things that can improve operations on so many levels. I actually think it would have been a better route for FHSC to go up Yesler, but the 3/4 is the next best thing. James @ I-5 is a clusterf#ck at the times you need your best performance out of a route.
The pushback you’re getting on the re-route is not without basis. In order to abandon current service to well established service patterns going back to the streecar days of Seattle (neighborhoods like Galer along the the MT2, or Judkins Park along the MT4) you have to have overwhelming and compelling reasons to do so. Just having a slightly better, revenue neutral service plan is not nearly good enough for a Metro Mgr to stick their neck out and explain to King Co. and Seattle Council members why they should ‘hang tough’ when the flood of phone calls and emails start pouring in.
Getting a bunch of buses to the MT terminal SPU is not a good enough reason, as the ridership their is no better than the MT4 tail. Convincing MT4 riders the 8/48/7 is just as good a deal is a tough sell.
I applaud your efforts to get more transit bang for the buck, and encourage you to keep after it. I like a lot of your ideas. I’m just not convinced that this round of deck chair movements is worthwhile – so convince me!
Like many political issues, the problem is that the few people who benefit from the tail ends of these routes have more to lose. The benefits of doing this are spread and dispersed among a larger number of people. The result is that the few current riders make a lot of noise, while everyone sort of shrugs.
That said, the way to get past that is to do exactly what Bruce has been doing, which is to make a strong argument that we need to look at the big picture and look at making the system work better for everyone, including future riders who may avoid buses at the moment. The way to make this happen is to find a Queen Anne neighborhood group (or form one!) that would support these changes, then lobby the council as much as possible.
I’d say the people who would complain the most about this would be the people on the Queen Anne tails of the 2 and 4. The Central District tail of the 4 could probably be made to tolerate it because of the 8, 48, and especially Link at its south end. (The lack of reliability of the 8 and 48 might make them louder, though.)
I walked on Galer between Queen Anne Ave and Westlake on Monday. Delete the 4, and people have to walk down stairs to catch the 2, 3, or 13. Multiple flights, in the case of the 3 from west of Bigelow. I’ve talked about the hill factor before with regards to downtown and the 12’s 19th Ave tail, and I doubt there’s a steeper hill in the city than Queen Anne.
I will admit, though, the 3’s Queen Anne tail is a bit redundant and Metro’s Queen Anne map is more than a little funky.
I like the ideas for the south end of downtown, but I think there’s way too much service on the north end. If you object to route 12 running light to Interlaken Park, you’ll be in fits when you see nearly empty buses climbing the back side of Queen Anne every 7.5 minutes!
I don’t think you’ll see much resistance to chopping the 3N/4N tails, but deleting the 2N Local will get some deserved heat. I would suggest that Metro look into combining the 1 and 2N into a loop that runs from Madrona to downtown to lower Queen Anne then splits to Kinnear and West Queen Anne legs and, in essence, live loops back to downtown on the opposite leg. There’s currently a lot of time spent laying over the 1 and 2N just a couple of blocks apart.
I don’t know. It might get a few more riders since this would probably also include the eliminate of Route 17. People along Nickerson going downtown would have to:
1) Walk to 15th Ave W and take Rapid Ride
2) Walk to 3rd Ave S and take this combined routing
3) Walk to Fremont/Dexter and take whatever is going along Dexter
4) Take Route 31 along Nickerson and transfer at one of the locations above
This is one of the dangers when looking at one service scenario without reference to the whole picture.
I don’t really like the notion of deleting the 17 on Nickerson entirely, though moving it from Ballard to Fisherman’s Terminal I am open to. I’d rather see direct Queen Anne-Fremont service and trimming the 30 and 31 south of the Ship Canal.
Concerning West Queen Anne service, why not extend Route 1 to serve 6th Ave W and Queen Anne Ave and terminate at the current Route 3 terminal? People on 6th Ave would still have some service and could transfer during off peak times to either route at Queen Anne Ave/Boston St. It would also provide a one-seat ride for 6th Ave W residents to downtown Queen Anne.
Really? This isn’t any more service than we currently have; it’s just different. And all of the buses we have now are full. So full, in fact, that these buses have the highest farebox recovery of any Metro service.
Reorganizing this service, and getting the associated efficiency benefits, should only lead to *more* riders, not fewer.
Also, remember that any bus which goes up the Counterbalance is necessarily a 40-footer. So the capacity you get from 5-minute service here is the same as what you get from 7.5-minute service on a route that isn’t as steep.
So “reorganizing” the most productive service in the county in a way that reduces its geographic coverage will attract more riders? Seriously, the 2N that people seem so eager to cut is one of the best performing routes in the system at all times of day. Looking at the 2009 report, the 2N gets better fare recovery at night than almost any Eastside route gets during peak.
I think the great farebox recovery numbers for the trolley routes are generated between downtown and the Seattle Center. Those corridors are frequently crush loaded, but once the buses head up the hill, the ridership loads thin out pretty quickly. Off-peak, to provide 20 minute headways for route 1 and 15 minute headways on the 3/4 (north of the Seattle Center) is much more service than ridership demands. The 2/13 carry good loads up the Counterbalance, but once they get to the top of the hill, their ridership is pretty thin as well. From the top of the Counterbalance to their terminals, it seems like the 2 has better ridership than the 13, but I’d like to see the numbers. Like I said before, sending that much service to SPU seems like a gigantic waste of resources. Especially if it requires sacrificing the 2N local service. Metro should expect a lot of neighborhood resistance.
I get the feeling that the 17 will be shifting to the north side of the canal after RapidRide goes to Ballard and that service on the south side of the canal will be provided by a Magnolia to UW route.
Matt, I was specifically responding to this claim:
As you said, these routes are super productive, and so I really don’t think there’s much risk of that changing.
Now, having said that, I agree with you that I’d like to see some more data to justify cutting the 2N. (Though it’s worth noting that Metro itself made almost this exact proposal.) But I’m willing to give Bruce the benefit of the doubt for now, since I’m guessing he’ll probably be following up with data in the very near future.
Contradicting myself a bit here…
Yes, if the frequency increase makes up for it.
Suppose that I live at 3rd and Blaine NW. It’s pretty much equidistant for me to get to the 2 or the 13. On the way home from downtown, I’ll probably just take whichever comes first. But on the way to downtown, because they have different routes, I can’t do that.
Because they’re both so infrequent, I might use OBA to pick which stop to wait at based on which is coming sooner, or I might walk the extra distance to the shared stop, or I might just pick my favorite (maybe one street has nicer scenery). Either way, my average wait time is probably somewhere in the 15-minute range.
With Bruce’s proposal, now I only have one choice of stop to walk to, but in return, my average wait time for a bus is now closer to 7.5 minutes.
Yes, if I live right on the 2, I might be annoyed that I now have to walk 1/4 of a mile to the nearest stop. (The distance between Queen Anne Ave and 10th W is 3300 ft, so even if you lived precisely halfway between the two, the most you’d have to walk is 0.3 miles.) But in return, a far greater portion of Queen Anne now lives within walking distance of a single corridor with 10-minute peak and 15-minute all-day frequency, which is much better than they have now.
Here in Capitol Hill, if I could scrap the tails of the 10/12/14 in return for 5-10 minute service on Madison and Olive/John/Thomas, would I do it? Hell yeah. Even if it meant I had to walk an extra few blocks to a bus, it would totally be worth it.
“The 2/13 carry good loads up the Counterbalance, but once they get to the top of the hill, their ridership is pretty thin as well.”
… because they split up. The highest-density, most commercial part of Queen Anne has spotty service between the 13 and 2 (Galer Street), 13 only (Garfield), 13 and 4 (Blaine to Boston), and 13 and 3 (Boston to McGraw). And to take the 13 or 4 downtown you have to stand on opposite sides of the street! Because this service is so scattered, it can be a 30-minute wait per trip even when there’s eight buses per hour crossing different parts of upper Queen Anne Avenue.
Imagine if Broadway had the 49 going on Pine and Broadway, and the 60 came north on Broadway and turned east on Pine to 15th, and the 14 came on Pine to Broadway to John to Summit. That’s something like what Queen Anne Avenue is like. For non-residents, the schizophrenia gives a good reason not to go to Queen Anne or live on Queen Anne.
I’ll concede that point. I have to admit when I first started arguing this I was ignorant of just how infrequent the QA routes currently are. I had been under the impression that the 2N ran more than every 30 minutes off-peak.
I still would like to see on-off data for the 2N and 13, though.
This is a good idea to have service where the riders are. Combing the 1 and 2N into a single loop is a very good way to cut down on overlapping service as well as reducing service if there is something else within walking distance.
I generally like these possible changes, especially the live-loop of the 2S, the guarantee of frequent service between downtown and First Hill/CD, and the reliability improvements obtained by moving the 3S/13 to Yesler.
But I actually don’t think this is ambitious enough on the north end, and even though it deletes some legacy turnbacks, it still keeps the routes as turnbacks, albeit at SPU or wherever. That still leaves Queen Anne Hill as the Willie Mays of transit areas (where Buses Go to Die). If we really wanted a gridded system then there would be through service from the back of Queen Anne Hill across the Ship Canal. Yes, I know, getting trolley wire across the Fremont Bridge is hard etc, etc…
It’s tricky because having buses go over Queen Anne and continue to Fremont or Ballard would only help people living on Queen Anne. Nobody in Fremont or Ballard would take that bus–they would take one that goes around Queen Anne. Unless the top of Queen Anne is willing to get some major employment growth so that it is a destination, that would be a tough sell.
Unless — y’know — they want to go to Queen Anne.
I agree that Queen Anne isn’t a major employment center, but it’s far from a bedroom community. I know lots of people from Fremont who go there often, and who would go more often if there was better access.
We’re talking about connecting two major neighborhoods — so major that some of us have talked about building a rail line that connects the two (and Ballard, and LQA). Despite the fact that Fremont is immediately north of QA Hill, there’s no direct route between the two right now. How could adding one be a bad thing?
LQA is a major destination. Upper Queen Anne–not so much. It’s a few blocks of restaurants, let’s be honest.
The best bus route from my neighborhood to upper Queen Anne is to take the #30 to Fremont and walk up the hill from there. I’ve done it a few times. It takes about 15 minutes or so and you feel invigorated when you reach the top. Even if there were a bus route from the top of Queen Anne to Fremont, I’m not sure it would really improve things. The street network is very narrow and residential in that area and some of the streets are one way. It’s great for pedestrians, but I don’t think a bus would be able to climb that hill without taking a very circuitous route. With wait time, I doubt it would be any better time-wise than walking. Furthermore, after sitting on the 30 for half an hour, I enjoy the exercise walking up the hill. Even if there were a magic button to warp myself instantly to the top of the hill, I’m not sure I’d always take it.
+1000. The gap between Fremont and QA is infuriating. It’s a 3-minute drive, and could be a 5-minute bus trip, but instead, it’s a 30-minute walk, or an even longer 2-bus trip. (There are a series of bus-plus-walk options as well, but again, it’s dubious whether they save much time over walking.)
But, at the same time, Bruce’s proposal could be implemented today, while these extensions would require capital investment. I think the best strategy is to push for optimizing the existing system first. Once we’ve done that, and the new route 13 becomes the busiest route in the system, then it’ll become a no-brainer to build the missing link.
Perhaps the 13 could be extended a bit further to the bridge, but not crossing it. That way people in Fremont would only have to walk across the bridge to take it, rather than walking four blocks further in an area that’s basically only of interest to SPU students.
I thought the 13 should go to the zoo.
But wouldn’t you have to extend the wires for that proposal too? Doesn’t seem like much of a stopgap…
You’d have to extend the wire a few blocks but it would make a material improvement to Queen Anne’s connectivity to north Seattle, which has long been a hole in Metro’s system. Of course extending it to the zoo would be ideal, but this would avoid the delays of the bridge going up and Fremont’s congestion.
Where would the 13 lay over if it went to the bridge without crossing it?
Aleks – I’m curious what route your 3-minute drive takes. Google estimates 7 minutes (http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Queen+Anne+Ave+N&daddr=Fremont+Ave+N&hl=en&ll=47.64174,-122.353363&spn=0.026023,0.052314&sll=47.638213,-122.344136&sspn=0.026025,0.052314&geocode=FTTZ1gIdFvu0-A%3BFeEP1wIdVBe1-A&vpsrc=0&mra=atm&mrsp=1&sz=15&dirflg=w&t=h&z=15).
Walking is about 15-20. A bus would probably be about 10 minutes at best, if it existed. With wait time, you may as well walk, which I take as a sign that scarce service hours are probably better spent elsewhere. While some people are probably too lazy to climb the hill, at some point, one must ask: if you aren’t willing to climb the Queen Anne Hill, why do you choose to live on top of it?
Under this restructure, if you were averse to walking up steep hills, you could walk from Fremont to SPU, take any bus up the hill, probably waiting less than five minutes to do so, get off on QA Ave & Crockett, and walk on the near-flat for the rest of the way.
You’re looking at the downward direction. Upward, Google says it’s a 5-minute drive, but a 28-minute walk. That sounds about right — everyone walks up hills more slowly than they walk down.
It’s not always laziness. Some people are not as mobile as others. There are people with heart conditions who would be out of breath after half an uphill block. There are the elderly, many of whom simply walk more slowly than the young, and especially up hills (if they can do that at all without losing their balance). There are parents with children.
And please don’t say that all these people should use paratransit. The point of paratransit is to help people who can’t walk 1-2 flat blocks to the nearest bus stop — who represent a tiny percentage of bus ridership. On the other hand, if you asked people on an average bus (*not* the 545) how many of them would be willing to walk 10 uphill blocks to the nearest stop, I bet you’d be surprised how many of them would say no — even people who live in a neighborhood with steep hills (e.g. all of Seattle).
“if you aren’t willing to climb the Queen Anne Hill, why do you choose to live on top of it?”
You may not be living on the hill. You may be visiting somebody there, or attending church or a bible study there, or eating there, or going to a specialty shop that only exists on Queen Anne like the Queen Anne tea shop (although I think that one’s gone now, or at least I can’t find it anymore).
I don’t know how the trolleybus would get close to the bridge and turnaround. That’s for the engineers to study and tell us if it’s feasable, and if not, what other improvements they could make to lessen the gap between Fremont and the 13.
The routes terminate at SPU for the same reason that the 10 terminates at Galer and the 17 terminates at Sunset Hill — there ain’t nowhere to go after that, but you have to serve that neighborhood.
Yes, I know Fremont is right there on your map. But your map is lying to you — or more specifically, it’s telling you the wrong thing. It’s telling you how far it is as the crow flies, not “how long is the scheduled run time for a bus to there and back, allowing enough time to guarantee reasonable reliability departing SPU to the south?” Such a map would look like one of those goofy maps that attempt to show laypeople how massive objects distort space-time in general relativity; projected into the plane of the map, it would distend the streets around the Fremont bridge, making Fremont a mile or more away from Nickerson.
I agree it blows, but I don’t see an easy way to fix the Freemont-Queen Anne hole, short of creating a new route, which isn’t in the cards here.
I wonder if Metro has studied how much operational savings they could achieve by moving the SB trolley wire from 1st and Broad to Denny and 3rd. They established that service pattern for the 15/18, so there must be some value in eliminating the unprotected left turn.
I think they would prefer to do the same northbound if they did that.
True, but that would require a new signal at 3rd & Denny, and it would have to be synchronized with the signals at 3rd & Broad and Denny & Broad with some complicated timing plan, and Denny is enough of a clusterf*ck as it is.
As horrible as cutbacks to service are, it does give cover to making route changes in the name of “efficiency/cost savings.” In an ideal world, the council would not give Metro the $20. Let Metro make the changes, 6 months later, after hearing all the complaints, put the $20 fee on the tabs, leaving Metro with the improved routes and the money.
But doing this would require a lot of political conniving because if in the end they can’t get the $20 tab fee we are left with just reduced service.
By the time all that happened, the time frame of the limited $20 fee would have expired.
The $20 fee gives Metro some room to improve service beyond these revenue-neutral reorganizations. Without it, additional routes would have to be cut, such as the 28. Not just reorganized to strengthen the 15 or 5, but cut as in reduced service. Metro has a year to demonstrate to the Legislature that it’s reorganizing routes more efficiently, in order to get long-term funding in place by the time the 2-year fee expires. Not letting our transit investment rise would also affect the years to come, because things that would be built now would be postponed a couple years, things that would be built then would be postponed beyond that, etc.
Was the reduction of the 2’s jog to west Queen Anne to peak-only in response to stop data? That’s the only part that gives me pause, since it’s a large area that has probably come to rely on all-day transit. Maybe the 4 could do that loop instead of going to SPU.
Now that’s an idea, though one people in the area will probably still revolt over.
Another idea: Once the 2 hits McGraw St, it is very close to the 13. What about sidling over to 9th or 10th and inheriting the 1’s terminus? The 1 could be cut, or head up Gilman Dr to terminate in Interbay. The 2X could extend up 11th and 12th and backtrack on Nickerson to SPU.
folks … keep in mind the vertical distance travelled as well … while some bus routes do end near each other they are often separated by large vertical distances (hills) … many people won’t take transit if they have to hike up/down large hills to get to it
I think the frequency, destination and speed of transit service is a bigger determinant of how far most people will walk rather than if it is flat or not.
What vertical distance there is between the 2 and 13 is spread out over six blocks until, ironically given what I said above, McGraw. On the other hand, the vertical distance between the 1 and 2 shallows out at the same point, and vertical distance doesn’t make the 3 any less redundant to the 13.
In Queen Anne, steep hills are simply an inherent part of the neighborhood and that’s what you get by choosing to live there. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as a lot of people value walking up and down the stairs for exercise. For someone out of shape looking to get into shape, moving to Queen Anne is a pretty decent way to go about doing it. The flip side when you choose to live on Queen Anne, you shouldn’t expect the bus system to bend over backwards to make sure you don’t have any hills to walk up or down on the way to the bus stop. If you want a flat neighborhood, live somewhere else.
Where? If there’s a neighborhood somewhere in Seattle that doesn’t have steep hills, I’m not aware of it…
Just one problem I see, and it’s not really a problem if you don’t consider it one, but when you have two routes share the same routing, have them diverge, and then end up at the same endpoint, your arrival and departure times are going to be erratically spaced. Interlining the 3 and 13 makes sense for Downtown and First Hill but, depending on how long each respective route takes going through Queen Anne, you are going to be terribly misaligned arriving/departing SPU. You may end up with buses leaving at the same time or a minute apart to maintain that 5-7.5 minute headway downtown.
5/7.5/7.5 would probably be the highest-frequency service in the city. Does SPU have the ridership to support that? Current mid-day headways on the 13 are around 30 minutes, which is the same as the 17 that gets you there 10 minutes faster. Besides SPU, 3rd Ave W north of McGraw has…a giant park. The 2 serves an elementary school, a public library, and several neighborhood commercial districts.
Is it worth it?
Is the current service level adequate for a part of the city with hundreds of thousands of people in multifamily housing, who are enthusiastic transit riders, and have a latent demand for ridership between the 30-minute off-peak scheduling? No. Central Seattle is as dense as Chicago’s North Side, or almost as dense as San Francisco neighborhoods, which have 10 minute service 18 hours a day and half-hourly night owls. When you want to go somewhere and the bus doesn’t come for 25 minutes, people are inclined to drive, wait until tomorrow, or stay home.
Um, considering that only about 600,000 people live in the entire city of Seattle, I find it doubtful that “hundreds of thousands of people” live in the vicinity of SPU. Belltown is the densest neighborhood in the city, but only 12,000 people live there.
Yes, Seattle transit frequency sucks relative to other cities. But that’s not an argument to advocate for uber-frequency in Single Family Land, especially when the mid-rise condo dwellers in Ballard are getting screwed over by RapidRide D.
Queen Anne is weird, because there are portions where there is a lot of density, but there are also parts that are nothing but single-family homes. Transit service needs to concentrated in the corridors with the most density and avoid single-family areas. It’s simple geometry.
Unless Metro is thinking a lot of folks will be transferring between RapidRide and the 2X, extending all the way to 15th seems really silly. If the terminus is stop 18680 (currently the last WB stop on Nickerson before 15th), lane configurations would require the bus to continue over the Ballard Bridge and then loop back to head back to terminal, which seems like a horrible waste of time during rush hour. (It may be possible for buses to make the lane-change to get onto the Nickerson St overpass, but it seems questionable at best.) And the second-to-last WB stop before 15th, which makes more sense for a bus that needs to deadhead (#18671) is a no-lift island stop from which SDOT recently removed the marked crosswalk; quite frankly it’s an unsafe place for a bus stop and should be removed entirely. If Metro wants to half-assedly serve Nickerson from SPU to the bridge, they might as well just terminate the 2X at 11th Ave, at least westbound, since that stop actually has a marked crosswalk. And at that point it just seems like it’s not worth bothering with. Is the ridership really there between SPU and the bridge? What about the 31?
I wonder if “15th” really means “Fisherman’s Terminal”…
See also my “2+1” idea above for an alternate way for the 2X to serve the same corridor.
Fishermen’s Terminal seems like an even worse terminal, given how much time will be wasted trying to get across the bridge during rush hour to serve what appears to be a nonexistant transit market.
I like your ideas except for moving the 2 service over to Queen Anne Ave. That’s a tough sell for those who live along the 2 and, as Gordon points out, there are hills between 6th W and alternative service on Queen Anne Ave N and 11th W. A 5 block walk + hills is probably a non-starter.
Instead, I’d leave the 2 routing the same except turn right on McGraw and then left on 3rd to SPU. You’d retain frequent service up to the stop at Galer & Queen Anne which gets you up the hill. You’d also retain the bulk of the 2 service. Most people are off by Ken’s Market.
The biggest beef I have with this whole exercise is that it does nothing to get the top and north sides of Queen Anne Hill connected with Fremont and/or Ballard. I lived in 2 different homes on QA over a span of a decade and was always frustrated by this. Figuring out how to connect all this service to Rapid Ride D and Interbay would be an interesting exercise.
I’ll give it a shot:
Kill the 4, re-invest its hours in the 3. Extend the 3 from its current terminus along McGraw, using the same wire you would need to send the 2 to SPU. Send it up the wire connecting the 1 and 2 loops, then 9th->Barrett->11th->Dravus. Send it over 15th and loop around near the QFC.
In addition to connecting to RR D, this would connect all the trolley routes on the hill and provide an east-west connector that I think is sorely lacking in the current downtown-focused system. Currently to get from East QA to West QA you’d basically have to go all the way to Belltown and come back.
I don’t think there is a way a bus could go down 9th/Barrett/11th/Dravus. Those are some narrow roads.
They’re all classified as Minor Arterials, which is actually a higher classification than 6th Ave W. The only one I think you may have a point with is 11th, since there is parking on one side.
But Metro sends buses bombing around on narrow side streets elsewhere. Just look at the 16 around Green Lake.
You could also take the same route for the 1 and 2.
From my memory living in that area and eyeballing it on Google street view, I’d say it’s doable although you’d have to get rid of the parking on 11th or provide a couple of bus zones for us to duck into when passing another bus/commercial vehicle.
The East/West service along with a connection to RR D would be VERY welcome indeed.
While you *could* run the 1 and 2 down there as well I’d imagine the neighborhood along the route would freak out if you ran that many buses through there. Refloating/regrinding those concrete panels could help. The city is littered with slow orders for streets like this where buses going too fast (or to use Matt L’s word: “Bombing”) create a rhythmic pounding sound from which there is no escape.
OK… so my new job no-longer allows me to sit around commenting half the day. Reading the comments, I see lots of good feedback, but there’s two things I would push back on, that I will address more in future posts:
* Extension to Fremont. If you think James is bad, try Fremont for unreliability. There’s no point spending >$10 mil to move wire to Yesler if we just park every (say) 10th bus north of the Fremont bridge for five minutes. There’s nowhere to turn a bus around between the current SPU terminus and the Fremont Bridge.
* Over-serving SPU. The point of this restructure is that turnbacks do not save you money in cases like this. Given the choice between overserving a corridor and adequately-serving a corridor and saving no money, you may as well overserve.
Like I say — wait for more posts to discuss this in detail.
Re Fremont: But there’s a difference between this and the Yesler issue, right? With the Yesler reroute, you’re only losing bus service to about 3-4 blocks of James St. But for Fremont, there’s simply no way to reach it other than by crossing the bridge. (Well, you could take the long way around through Aurora, but that would only improve reliability by making it universally slow. And if you’re going to do that, you arguably should do the same for the 5/26/28 as well.)
There’s a second point too, which is that getting to anywhere else from Queen Anne, even points north, requires backtracking through downtown. We could solve that by making SPU a major transfer point, but in all other respects, Fremont seems so much better suited for that role — it’s a much bigger employment/commercial/residential destination of its own, and it already has lots of bus traffic.
Are we really okay having Queen Anne Hill be “where buses go to die”?
From the top of the hill, Fremont is a 15-20 minute walk away and, if you’re going further north, you can walk due East to Aurora and catch the 5, 16, or 358, again about 15 minutes or so of walking. For the people on the west side of Queen Anne, 15th Ave West doesn’t look that far to walk on the map. Again, way faster than backtracking to downtown.
You’re missing the point. A bus that runs every five minutes plus or minus ten minutes may as well run every twenty minutes. It would defeat the the entire purpose of this restructure.
Queen Anne-Fremont mobility is a problem, but some problems just can’t be fixed due to the constraints we operate under. Close the drawspan of the Fremont bridge permanently, and we’ll talk.
Okay, you’ve convinced me that crossing the Fremont Bridge isn’t worth it. But I’m not convinced that you can’t extend the 13 to the point immediately south. You’d have the northbound wire go onto Florentia, layover there, then circle around the block back to Nickerson. This still connects with the 30 and the 26/28 (or the 5), so it still provides a way to get from Queen Anne to North Seattle without completely backtracking.
Is there an obvious reason why this couldn’t happen (aside from finding the money)? I agree that your plan shouldn’t be blocked on waiting for the resources to make this extension happen, but I don’t see why this couldn’t work.
Have you ever tried to walk from Taylor to Aurora? It’s practically impossible. Not as in “it’s a strenuous walk”, but as in “you have to hike through the woods”. Google says there’s a walkway from Crockett to Aurora, but it’s pretty well hidden (as in, I’ve failed to find it on multiple occasions :P). And if it does exist, that’s the only connection from QA Hill.
On the way back, of course, you’re talking about a completely ADA-inaccessible stairclimb of 140 feet.
Same problem, but more so. There’s a 200+ foot elevation difference between 10th and 15th. The grid is almost completely disconnected there; you’ve got Dravus, Gilman (which is a very roundabout way to get to a bus stop), and a few stair streets. And on the way home, have fun walking up 20 stories’ worth of stairs.
Those are simply not workable options for any but the youngest, fittest travelers.
@Aleks: Have you been looking for the walkway from the Aurora end? ‘Cause I’ve never spotted that end either, though I’ve never looked too hard, truth be told. But from the Crockett/Taylor end the entrance is quite apparent. But even if the path weren’t overgrown and muddy as hell, I don’t think you could pay me enough to walk down that path. If I need to get down the hill from there, I always head back to Galer.
I wouldn’t exactly call that “apparent”. For one, there’s no signage. For another, it looks disgusting. If you’re wandering around and don’t know how to descend the hill, then you might not even notice the entrance, and even if you do, you might think it’s private property or assume it doesn’t go all the way down.
Compare that with the newly-opened NE 36th Street Bridge in Redmond. That’s very different, since it’s connecting two nearly-level endpoints, but it’s amazing when you cross it how much it just feels like a regular walk on level ground. You would have no idea you’re crossing a highway unless you looked.
I’m not saying that every hill-climb needs to be as well-engineered as that. But they don’t have to be as bad as the one at Crockett, either. (And if they are, and we count on them to provide mobility to more than a few people, we’re making a huge mistake.)
Aleks, from what I see daily going to Fremont from downtown on either the 26/28 or 17, there is significant congestion in that entire vicinity during peak hours, with bridge closures adding to the fun. I think what you’re asking deserves a serious look, but I’d want to understand how much that extra loop would cost in run time and reliability to balance against the benefit – the benefit makes sense, don’t get me wrong.
I also wonder if you could do anything with this proposed Fremont/Ballard streetcar to help solve this? Particularly since I think it makes zero sense to run that line across the Fremont Bridge; could you go west on Nickerson and have SPU be the transfer point to head north? different end points than the 5 and 26/28 I know.
I think one of your awesome on-off charts for the 2N would help this discussion immensely. :)
and I know Bruce is busy and these are very time-consuming, but the 2S chart would also help a lot :)
A lot of people seem to be missing the meta-point here.
It’s not that Queen Anne needs 3x the frequency of the rest of the city. It’s that these frequencies are something that *we should take for granted*… and that, with some appropriate reorganizations, *we can get these frequencies without affecting the budget!*.
If Metro planners had their way, *every major corridor in Seattle would have 5-minutes peak frequencies. Capitol Hill would have a 5-minute headway route to downtown. So would the U-District. So would West Seattle.
The fact that we don’t have those now isn’t because we don’t have the money or the smarts; it’s because we don’t have the political willpower.
When I lived in Capital Hill, I always had the impression that the frequencies had short intervals due to the multiplicity of bus lines that run through the Hill, e.g., 7, 8, 43, 10, 11.
But yes, by and large we don’t have the willpower to spend the $$ needed to make our transit system world class.
No mention of West Seattle in this spreadsheet. Oh wait a minute, Rapid Ride in 2012 will be our savior, no worries:)
The ultra-frequency works only for a few very short trips.
3rd to Bellevue: min 8 per hour at all times (10×2, 11×1, 14×1, 43×1, 49×1)
3rd to Broadway/Pine: min 4 per hour (10×2, 11×1, 49×2)
3rd to Broadway/John: min 2 per hour (43×2). Some people also take the 14 and walk.
3rd to Broadway (either Pine or John): min 6 per hour.
3rd to 15th/Pine: min 3 per hour (10×2, 11×1)
Broadway/Harrison to 3rd: min 2 per hour (49×2)
Broadway/John to 3rd: min 4 per hour at different stops (43×2, 49×2)
15th/John to Summit: min 4 per hour (8×2, 43×2)
Most of these routes are not coordinated. For instance, the 10 westbound comes five minutes after the 11 evenings/Sundays, so the wait times are 5 min, 25 min, 30 min. The 14 eastbound leaves a few minutes after the 43, so the daytime waits are 3 min, 12 min, 15 min, 3 min, 12 min. Evenings it’s 3 min, 12 min, 15 min, 15 min, 15 min.
I noticed this especially when I lived on the 14, where it’s necessary to take other routes when the 14 is half-hourly or hourly.
The problem is, all of those routes branch in different ways as soon as you get past Bellevue Ave. So, rather than being able to wait at one stop for a 5-minute bus, you have to play “bus roulette”, and if you pick wrong, you get to wait for 30 minutes. (I’m not kidding — the 11 has 30-minute frequencies all day, and the 43 and 8 each have 30-minute frequencies after 8pm, which is even better when you realize they both come at the *exact same time*.)
As Bruce shows, we can do better than this.
This re-structure of the 2/3/4/13 is almost exactly what was proposed in Scenarios B and C for the Metro Rapid Trolley Network. The proposed service frequency and span is similar as well.
Unfortunately we have to get past the “OMFG some riders will have to walk an extra block or two” mentality if we want to see these sort of service improvements. Similarly we have to stop defending every stupid jiggle and jog that has been put into a route over time or through-running patterns that make little sense anymore. But just like the case with ACRS and the 42 there are people out there who will loudly protest any change to existing service unless it takes the form of additional service hours either as a new route or as new trips on a current route.
First i have to question all that service to SPU. The times i have ridden through it dosent appear to be a large traffic generator. Secondly i do have to agree with the general idea. A lot of metro routes seem to have tails that at one time were well used but are not so much anymore, and deviations that while they may be importaint, slow the line down considerably. Finally, while i’m not an advocate of extreme forced transfers (taking a line that “naturally” flows downtown and terminating it short at light rail station, i think the idea of connecting is more “natural” for a line that would cross the light rail path literally and continue on downtown). Finally i’d like to see routes with “express” deviations have the express portion consolidated with the local route or eliminated, and those hours saved re-invested into the local service. The express portions tend to make the service that much more confusing for saving only a few minutes overall. I think Metro has a lot more oppertunitys than they think to streamline service and save money. They just need to be able to act on them.
Did you read my earlier reply? The service to SPU is necessary to make the simplified network feasible. A turnback somewhere else would not save you money.
About that 2S idea, I wonder how that would affect existing service on Madison/Marion (current 12, possible future 11), especially downtown where Zach seemed to propose a similar live-loop for that route.
None of these service changes will alter some of the severe traffic problems facing QA-Downtown service, particularly northbound in the evening rush hour. These traffic chokepoints waste precious service hours and destroy reliability.
1. The 1/2/13 (and 15/18) often can’t turn from WB Broad St to NB 1st Ave because the middle lane of 1st Ave is filled to capacity. Despite the dedicated bus lane (occasionally blocked by idling vehicles), buses need all three lanes to be open near the intersection in order to make the right turn.
2. The 3/4 are usually caught in the terrible traffic caused by box-blocking cars at 5th Ave N / Mercer. I’ve spent 20 minutes going 4 blocks along 5th Ave N. Perhaps the Mercer project will help fix this.
3. In Upper Queen Anne, Queen Anne Avenue is terrible for transit reliability. There are constant pedestrian crossings, cars parking, frequent stop signs, and very narrow lanes after SDOT switched to back-in-angle parking along one side of the street and added a bike lane. At some stops, buses must wait until there is no oncoming traffic to leave a stop, aggravated by the fact that most drivers fail to yield.
Why can’t these buses just go directly from Denny to 3rd? It works for the 15/18 southbound… can’t we enable this turn in both directions (even if only for transit)?
While that’s true, it seems like the real solution is to improve traffic flow on Queen Anne Ave. That means removing on-street parking, eliminating the all-way stops in favor of stop signs for the side streets, and moving the bike route to a side street.
To answer your first question, I’ll copy-paste my answer from earlier in the thread…
I think it is time to fact check who the transit bloggers represent and how much of their information is really complete. I cannot see any bio on the posters of the stories. Remember every time anyone goes to the blog they make money from their adds. This is the second story published by CD News that was generated from this blog and it is only fair that we get a better idea of who they are since they are proposing so many changes for our area.
The area around 3rd and Marion and Madison is not a destination. This means to get anywhere all #2 bus riders from the CD and Madarona would be transferring somewhere downtown. I assume that a vast majority of #2 riders coming from the direction of Madrona to downtown are all going someplace else once they arrive downtown, such as the retail core, Pike Place Market, Belltown, Queen Anne theater areas, and others.
Many coming from both directions are going to Virgina Mason. Under this proposal number #2 would no longer serve Virgina Mason (a major service provider and employer), especially or Horizon House. Why not propose getting rid of the the 2 express.
If the people who propose this believe that all should transfer to get to main destinations. Then let all buses that come to 3rd and Yesler stop so that the riders can transfer to the light rail to get downtown. Let all the UW buses stop at the tunnel so every one can transfer. Queen Anne buses stop around Virgina Street and riders can transfer to get to the retail core or the Benroya Hall. Let no bus pass into the downtown core. Is this what we really want transferring for every single trip to get to any main destination.
I also…ecked on another discussion that I had attempted to have with this group regarding the #4. The people who run the blog insisted that the the bus stop on third headed north from James was not used much. I checked and currently it serves as a stop for about 12 different buses and is not a stop for any of the trolleys. The nearest stop for a trolley is at Columbia and 3rd. Remember Metro has staggered the stops on 3rd in order to keep things moving. Also the #2 serves as a main way for metro riders to get to the downtown library head up the hill at Seneca. If the #2 were to go up Marion the stop is at the bottom of the hill. While I am not saying it could not be moved, the current stop is well designed for all to use and I didn’t see an easy place to put one going up the hill on Marion. I don’t think you are getting much bang for your buck here and in the meantime you seem to be picking on one area of town. I could contemplate a #2 that went from Madrona along its current route to Mercer on Queen Anne. Then the other Queen Anne buse riders could all plan to transfer to various buses near Seattle Center.
I note that many riders exit and enter the #2 at Broadway, Virginia Mason and Horizon House, Central Library, Downtown Core, Belltown and Seattle Center area and is well used.
I see no desire from any of their voices desiring to work with communities for solutions. Do they have any respect for the mass transit users? Again buses can go fast by not going anywhere really useful or even by not stopping anywhere or they can attempt to go efficiently to the places we need to go.
I presume the 4/3 would use the stop on 3rd between James and Yesler, same as the 14 and 27. That would be the stop for access to the govt. buildings in the area. If the hillclimb is bothersome, you can choose a longer, flatter walk from 5th & Yesler. Not sure what you mean about stop popularity – there was a very specific chart posted last week with the automatically collected on/off counts for every single stop on the 4’s route. The 3rd & columbia/marion stops had about 5-6 combined on/offs each, and those stops wouldn’t go away.
The 2’s downtown turnaround would use the same stops as the 12 – in the eastbound direction, there’s a stop at 1st, 2nd, and 4th – and 3 stops in the other direction on Madison, too, including a stop just around the corner from the Library. The stop at 9th and Madison would be only one (flat) block from Virginia Mason’s front door – I think a ton of Metro riders in the rest of the county would smack you for saying that “would no longer serve” Virginia Mason. This is why the suburbanites hate us. Metro wants to consolidate First Hill service onto Madison anyway, and Seattle DOT has made noises about adding bus lanes on Madison at some point in the indeterminate future.
Regarding transfers, most Metro riders are already transferring; it’s a fundamental part of the way the routes are laid out. Metro’s countywide route system is a hub and spoke system, and 3rd avenue downtown is transfer central. Every bus that passes through downtown comes out with a different load of passengers than the one it carried in. So if you can get to 3rd avenue, you can get anywhere, including but not limited to Queen Anne (and if you still want a one-seat ride from the CD to Lower Queen Anne, the 8 is not going to disappear any time in the foreseeable future).
“I could contemplate a #2 that went from Madrona along its current route to Mercer on Queen Anne. Then the other Queen Anne buse riders could all plan to transfer to various buses near Seattle Center.”
I have sometimes suggested something like that. Make the 13 super-frequent (every 5 minutes), and turn the 1-2-3-4 into a loop from 1st N/Republican to Taylor – Boston – 6th W/Raye – 10th W/Fulton – Seattle Center. Even better would be with a subway from downtown and Belltown, stopping at Seattle Center and QA/Boston, and then going on to Ballard (perhaps via Fremont). That would solve the slowness problem for getting on and off Queen Anne, and all parts of the loop would be close to one of the two subway stops. But of course, we’re nowhere near finding money for a subway.
The STB leaders (of which I am not) have a few points they editorially agree on, but beyond that they each write their own opinions. Many of the articles are to explore an idea, not to pronounce a final unchangeable policy. This is one such article. It proposes an idea to discuss its advantages and disadvantages. We all (or most of us) have lived in several Seattle neighborhoods, and we do business and recreation in other neighborhoods — or we have in the past — and we each have general ideas about the kinds of geography we want in our city’s neighborhoods.
You say, do we have no respect for the neighborhoods and mass transit riders, but we are the neighbors and mass transit riders, or at least some of them. You say, we have a lot to learn about talking with people and communities, but we’re not an official government entity, we’re just a group of citizens interested in transit. A few of us are bus drivers or work in engineering/urban design fields, but most of us do not. “We” can’t talk as a unit to neighborhood groups, all we can do is ask them to share their opinions with us.
One article can’t make a proposal for an entire city, it has to focus on one neighborhood at a time. Earlier there were few neighborhood-reorganization articles, but now I think there will be more of them, focusing on different parts of the city and suburbs. Obviously, for any neighborhood, the three most important factors are how it affects the neighborhood’s residents, how it affects visitors to the neighborhood, and how it affects the city/region’s overall mobility. Sometimes a consolidation like this hurts a few people but helps a larger number of people, both current riders and future riders. (People who will now visit the neighborhood or move to the neighborhood, who wouldn’t have considered it before because of the infrequent scattered transit.) But we vitally need to hear what neighborhood residents think of the ideas and how they would affect them. Because they may know something the rest of us don’t.
You’ve yet to successfully challenge any information I’ve presented; every objection you’ve raised has been shot down by multiple people.
I’ve never received a penny for what I write on STB. The ad revenue from this site is tiny, and mostly goes to pay for get-togethers and defray the expenses of running it. Writing on STB consumes hours and hours of my free time, and I do it only because I enjoy it and want to make Metro better. Believe me, there are much more lucrative ways I could spend my evenings.
Yup, just like riders on the 43 and most riders on the current 10 and 12. During the day there is a continuous stream of buses available to move you north or south.
It will provide service within a flat two-block walk of Virginia Mason.
Because eliminating the 2 will leave a small gap in bus coverage of Queen Anne, which the 2X will cover.
The UW buses run IN the tunnel.
I didn’t say that and would never have said that. All the downtown stops are very well used. What other people say in the comments is their own opinion, and I’m not responsible for that any more than I’m responsible for your comments.
You don’t seem to understand what is being proposed here. All of those destinations would still be served.
I specifically emailed this post to CD News in the hope that they would post about it, so I could see what people in the neighborhood thought.
Well I don’t have a car and use transit and walking for virtually everything, so apparently I don’t respect myself.
The entire point of the exercise is to go to the places people need to go, faster and more reliably.
If a bus doesn’t stop at your front door step, you consider it not served by transit.
It’s understandable why people think that way. It’s reinforced by the status quo of poor frequency, reliability and speed of service but that’s not how a successful transit system works. This proposal aims to fix that by:
• making buses more frequent = less wait time = you can forget about the schedule = transfers are easy
• making buses faster = you can get to more places in the same amount of time, even with transfers
• making buses more reliable = your trip is more predictable and less frustrating
Who wouldn’t want this?
A side note: People in Europe and Asia walk much farther than Americans on a daily basis, even seniors there walk more. No wonder we have a health problem.
I think that I walk more than most and more than possibly you do. Once I was on crutches for a bit and came to new appreciation. I’m not sure why you say if it doesn’t come to my doorstep.
What do you mean? Do you want to spend 15 minutes walking each way to your bus? Do you want to transfer several time and wait for connections to get to each destination. Where is your doorstep? Fewer transfers also mean less wait time. More transfers mean more wait time. On another blog I pointed out that there is a direct route from the U to Queen Anne, and that the #8 provides direct access to Queen Anne from Broadway. The 16 provides direct access to Queen Anne from the ferry. So, why is it surprising that we might want the same? If all you want to do is cut redundant service why not start with Broadway? Perhaps all could terminate there but one that would go downtown. Once the light rail is open at John and Broadway, all could terminate on Broadway and transfer to the light rail to downtown. Why are you not looking at eliminating the #2 express?
Kind of like the 48 that provides a direct route from the CD to the U-District?
That same 8 also serves the Central District. You too can take a bus to Broadway.
Under this restructure, the 2 would turn around on 1st & Marion which is literally across 1st Ave from the ferry walkway.
With this restructure, you would have the same.
What are you talking about? There’s no major redundancy with Broadway service.
I’ve answered this question before, and I’m not going to repeat myself.
If it’s fast, frequent and reliable, yes, but this proposal will not result in anyone having to walk 15 minutes to their bus.
Not always true.
I live on the Eastside. I walk 10 minutes from home to get to an express bus that takes me to Bellevue Transit Center and I wait about 5-10 minutes to catch the bus into Seattle. Once downtown, I walk two blocks from the tunnel to my office building. Despite all that walking and waiting, often times it’s 10 minutes faster than taking the one-seat bus to downtown Seattle that’s a 3 minute walk from home. The only reason I don’t do that more often is because the service runs every 30 minutes, not 15 or less, and can be unreliable.
Transfers, if done right, are better than one-seat rides and gives more options than any one bus route could. Transfers are not a problem when wait time is minimized through timing buses to meet (like on the Eastside) or running buses frequently enough such that the next one is always a few minutes away.
The 16 skirting the east edge of Seattle Center and stopping at Galer on Aurora is hardly “direct access to Queen Anne”, unless you’re twisting the definitions to benefit your argument. Somehow, walking 2 flat blocks to Virginia Mason isn’t “direct access” yet walking half a mile across Seattle Center from Queen Anne Ave is?
Plus the 16 only runs every 20 minutes, versus all the combined service of the 1, 2, 3, 4, 15, and 18 that goes through the heart of LQA. During the day and evening the wait for a downtown bus from Mercer & QA is less than 10 minutes.
Yes, and the 48 runs twice as often than the 30 U District-Seattle Center.
“If all you want to do is cut redundant service why not start with Broadway? Once the light rail is open at John and Broadway, all could terminate on Broadway and transfer to the light rail to downtown.”
We are looking at Broadway too, but that’s not the subject of this article.
When Capitol Hill station opens, a lot of people will probably switch to it for Broadway-downtown because it’ll be faster than the boarding/deboarding delays all along Pine Street. Still, Pine will need a bus because the in-between stops are significant transit draws. I personally have suggested consolidating Capitol Hill service to three main frequent routes: the 8, 10, and a north-south bus from the U-district-Broadway-Rainier Beach (the old 9 local), and an all-Madison route (replacing the 11 and 12). The 60 could be moved to 12th and rejoin Broadway at Capitol Hill station, because 12th is an underserved corridor. Reduce the 14-north to peak hours (when it’s full). That leaves the 43, which is somewhat redundant, but less so than the 49 (if a north-south Broadway route were added). So the 43 might stay. Other suggestions have been to reroute the 10 from Pine to John, which would stop closer to Capitol Hill station (and you could thus transfer to Link for an express to downtown, or to everywhere else Link goes). It depends on the relative amounts of service needed on John vs Pine vs Madison, and whether one of these could be dropped. People have strong opinions on both sides of this and I’m not going to make a definitive suggestion, except to note that Pine is currently the most-served and thus has the highest expectation of future service, but pushing its service out to both John and Madison would space the routes better while only being a few blocks’ walk from Pine.
I apologize I did find your bios: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/who-we-are/
Nonetheless, I think you have a lot to learn a lot about working with people and communities.
Right back at ya…
Next time, try arguing the facts rather than attacking people you don’t know. There is plenty to disagree on when discussing transit changes. Accusing STB bloggers of writing out of a profit motive is neither accurate or productive.
The #14 and the #27 do not stop between Yesler and James. I went there today to check that our specifically. That stop accommodates other buses. I did not use the term “popularity.” In another posting it had been stated by others that #4 would not have much competition for the bus stops between Yesler and Jefferson and that they were not used that much. However, the one at 3rd and James is one that has been designated for other buses such as 5, 6, 26, 52 and then ones in the 300 and 500s. As for the walk along 5th Avenue from Yesler to James, I will have to check that out. I have used the 14 to get to the ID and to downtown, and the 27 the get to Pioneer Square and downtown, but not to the city buildings and for some reason that walk seems surprisingly unfamiliar to me.
And, why would the #2 riders of all the city be singled out to not have a bus that actually goes to a destination? You keep saying a few as though the #2 isn’t that heavily used. In any case since we aren’t planning a subway to Seattle Center, unless you want to count the new tunnel, which may not accommodate much transit, the bus and trolley structure is what we have. My daughter studied ballet at PNB and it would have been inconvenient and perhaps not in her best interest to have to switch buses downtown in order to get home. Just as her ballet friends who needed to catch a ferry were well served by the buses from Lower Queen Anne to the ferry in the evening. Many in the CD access the theater there by bus, are trying to make appointments downtown or in Belltown. Why should they have to transfer any more than others headed from other areas? I’m just not sure why you are currently picking on some of the most highly used routes. The 70s run from the U to the tunnel downtown. Why not have most of the north end buses run to the U and transfer to the 70s if you are looking for these type of efficiencies? I would need more information before I seriously thought that was a great idea. However, you are throwing ideas out like crazy without much more information or thought. Direct access to Virginia Mason and the City buildings is important also. Why would we provide direct access to 5th and Yesler?
No reason why the modified routes can’t be made to stop there or stop locations adjusted. Metro planners did this for other routes in the city.
What? They’re just a block or two away. Seriously, this idea that a bus needs to stop right at the building to be considered served needs to go away. By the same logic, Pioneer Square Tunnel Station doesn’t get you to the city buildings, yet thousands do that everyday, including myself. Absurd.
Do they? Most areas in Seattle, let alone King County, don’t have a bus to Queen Anne or Madrona or Harborview. They all have to transfer using buses with far less frequency and span of service that central Seattle enjoys.
At present the 70s are already overcrowded. They don’t have the capacity to take more riders. I do in principle support sending the 70s to the UW Link Station when it opens in 2016 because the trains have plenty of capacity and will run more frequently, reliably and faster. There are however operational issues related to limited layover space and Pacific St congestion.
Aside from the infrequent 16, no other Lower Queen Anne buses stop right at the ferry terminal. You have to walk 3-4 blocks from 3rd Ave or 2 blocks from 1st.
If that means well served, then this proposal will serve many well. In exchange for a 2 minute walk, you cut your waiting time in half, plus your bus gets there faster and more reliably.
I don’t know why Bruce picked these but I think improving these routes will benefit a great number of people and they can be done today without spending too much money, hence why it’s “revenue-neutral”.
These aren’t crazy ideas nor are they exclusively ours, as Metro planners have proposed the same thing (stated in the 2nd paragraph of this article). These ideas are based on current best practices in the transit industry. Did you even read the article?
Um, no, I don’t think we’re the ones doing that.
Southbound, stop #500. Northbound, the 14 uses stop #1610, and the 27 uses stop #1370 (although by that point it’s switched numbers to the 17, which could be a source of confusion) It’s a good place to transfer to/from a tunnel bus, and I use the stops frequently. I guess the northbound stops are technically not between Yesler and James, as they’re both right before the Yesler intersection, but it’s close enough for me.
Aah, so that’s what you were referring to. Bus traffic on 3rd thins out considerably once you get south of Columbia St, because all of the West Seattle buses turn off of 3rd there. So congestion at the Cherry and James stops is not nearly as bad as through the center of downtown. They are busy stops, to be sure, but not nearly as busy as stops further north that the bus already uses, like Seneca or Union.
Almost all routes end at some main destination. Again 3rd and Madison is not a destination of any sort. I was feeling grumpy, but my point is that if you believe that the #2 bus riders could just transfer on 3rd to get downtown or anywhere then the same logic could be used for all the buses coming onto 3rd at Yesler. My point is that Harborview deserves to be served directly by a bus/buses. Seattle U deserves to be served by a bus/buses. Swedish deserves to be directly served by a bus/buses, as do all the major institutions including UW. In the CD we happen to live in the same area as these institutions which can produce other sets of challenges, but living in major transportation corridors happens to be one of the advantages. I am not saying we deserve direct access to each institution, bus since we live here it is likely that for the most part we will have access to them. However, as residents we deserve access to downtown and the rest of the city as much as any other residents.
Since you are looking to shoot down and not necessarily answer concerns or rethink any of your ideas, and I get grumpy, the conversation becomes somewhat unproductive. I had questions when I first moved here and over the years when I interacted with Metro I have found with few exceptions that there is usually a reason why certain routes were designed in the want that they were. However, light rail and other changes will probably be a force for changing some routes and service delivery models in some areas. Light rail does not do as good a job of serving neighborhoods as buses, but connections to the rail will probably change some service. You bring up Capitol Hill and don’t respond to questions about how the buses on Broadway aren’t more redundant than the ones you take on. Yes, regular riders are protective of their services with good reason.
1.You said that there wasn’t competition for bus stops between Yesler and James, and yet when I checked it out there was a lot competition.
2.Walking up a steep hill from third or walking along 5th Avenue to James have been the only access you have offered for access to the City government buildings. Oddly I cannot remember how 5th Avenue connects Yesler and James, and when I look at Google maps there is a caution regarding that there may not be sidewalks or that there may be barriers in that walk.
3.You have not acknowledged that the 3 and 4 do a pretty good job of delivering that service.
4. You haven’t answered the questions about why #2 bus riders are being singled out for having to transfer to get to any destination.
5. Check out the infrastructure around the Central Library that has been the result of the interaction between the #2 trolley and the new building to be able to accommodate many. Your plan would not improve access to the Central Library and also its events.
6. You and I have very different views regarding the north side of Virginia Mason. First many major institutions deserve to be served on several different sides. Some examples are University of Seattle, University of Washington, the Swedish complexes, and community colleges. I note that express buses for the Virginia Mason are also served at the 9th and Seneca stop. It is very different to say that in some years that VM will expand south and use that to justify moving the entire access to that side.
7. You have not persuaded me that your proposal offers me, my neighbors, the employees and service users at VM, residents of Horizon House any improved service. Exactly who you are trying to serve here is a bit unclear.
5. The #2 is another point of access for the north side of Swedish and the Poly Clinic and to Seattle Central.
6. The #8 is a bus route designed especially to give the South End and Madison Valley more access to Capitol Hill and to Queen Anne and Broadway more access to Queen Anne. It is a more recent addition whose purpose was stated as I have stated above. Yes, it can be useful, but MLK is a north south route which is very useful for those that it was designed to serve, and not so much for many others. I believe that you will find the major point so use by that bus to be outside of the Union/Cherry/Jefferson corridor.
Just to clarify, we’re not talking about requiring anyone to make a 15 minute walk. I thick nearly everyone who writes for or comments on this blog agree that frequenttransit service should be within a 5 minute walk of someone’s home or destination (although a handful do think a 10 minute walk is acceptable), and that’s what this plan aims to provide. Oran’s map has a mark on it showing an approximate distance for what is a 10 minute walk.
The tunnel will accommodate NO transit at all, and there is nothing in the plan to support currently existing transit (except some added temporary bus service during construction). That’s one of the reasons why this blog editorialized against the tunnel. Frequently.
I feel some kinship with you on the tunnel issues. I think a 10 minute walk becomes a barrier to many who are not real walkers, have small children or who carry groceries or other items for work or play. Time wise it is also a detriment, especially in the morning with little kids.
You say that multiple institutions “deserve” bus service. I question your use of the word “deserve”. The goal of transit service is to provide the greatest amount of mobility to the greatest number of people. But sometimes, that involves tradeoffs.
In a perfect world, every arterial in the city would have a bus that came every 2 minutes, and there would never be any traffic. There would be a super-frequent bus on every major north-south and east-west street in Seattle.
In the real world, we barely have enough money to keep 15-minute service on many of our important routes. Like you said, the 2 — an extremely important and well-used route through the CD and Madrona — drops to 20-minute frequencies at certain times. (In Queen Anne, it only runs twice an hour, because half its runs become the 13.) So we have to choose between fewer routes with greater frequency, or more routes with less.
We all ride the buses too. That’s why we care about this. I end up at Virginia Mason about once every couple of weeks, for various reasons. I’ve had multiple occasions to go to Harborview. I go to Queen Anne fairly often. And on all of these occasions, I invariably find that the 2/3/4 are not very good — either because they come so rarely, or travel so slowly.
I’m very lucky, in that I’m young and fit, and so I can easily walk between downtown, First Hill, and Capitol Hill. And that’s generally what I do, since the bus service to Virginia Mason is so bad. But for someone who isn’t lucky as me — for someone who has to wait for the bus — a bus that comes only every 20-30 minutes just *isn’t good enough*. No other city would run a bus that rarely for such a major corridor. Why do we?
To answer your specific questions:
Every major neighborhood in Seattle needs a direct connection to downtown. No argument there. Where I believe we differ is in how we define downtown. I think that a connection to the 3rd Ave “transit mall” — i.e. the part of 3rd Ave between Stewart and Jefferson — is good enough. You seem to think (and correct me if I’m wrong) that every bus should go to 3rd and Pine.
That’s a reasonable point, but it creates some logistical issues. As many people have pointed out, turning onto/off of 3rd Ave between Stewart and James is a huge source of delays. This is why the 10/12 is routed via 1st Ave; that way, a slow 10 can’t hold up every other trolleybus.
By moving the 3/4 to Yesler for a few blocks, you avoid this problem, but preserve a direct connection to 3rd and Pine.
As far as the 2 goes, you could imagine an alternate proposal, in which the 2 was through-routed with another east-west bus. For example, if the 10 was upped to 6-minute frequency, you could imagine having the 10 head down 1st Ave then back up Madison, like today, but splitting at Union (so that half of the buses went to Madrona and half continued on Madison).
Actually, Capitol Hill was one of the first neighborhoods that got this treatment. I think you’ve got it backwards — for the most part, people have been most enthusiastic about writing about changes to their own neighborhoods. Martin is a Rainier Valley resident. Bruce lives in Belltown, and so changes to the 2/3/4 affect him a lot. Zach lives in Madrona.
For my part, I live on Capitol Hill, and would *love* to see our service fixed. The closest buses to me are the 11 and the 12. The 11 only runs once every 30 minutes. That’s insane! And the 12 is frequent at peak, but not so much off-peak, and it has a very poor span of service. (And it doesn’t go to 23rd, which is just annoying.) When I lived on Broadway, one of the things that drove me crazy was that the 49 turned at Pine; I had lots of choices for buses to get downtown, but the only ways to get to First Hill or Little Saigon were the super-infrequent 9 and 60.
That’s because they don’t! The revised service plan will provide faster, more frequent service to everywhere that the current routes serve, with the only downside being that a few ridesr will have to walk a couple of extra blocks to a few destinations (but not the important ones). It’s a tradeoff, but to me, this seems like an easy one.
There are tons of destinations on First Hill. 3rd and Madison is convenient to many downtown jobs, and it’s easy to transfer from there to anywhere else in Seattle, or the county for that matter.
But anyway, the #2 is hardly being singled out. Bruce is writing about the routes he’s most familiar with. Zach did the same for east central Seattle, and Martin did the same for the RV.
And again, we’re proposing these changes because we think it will make service *better*. Bruce, a regular rider of the 2, would prefer that it works as described. I would prefer if the 49 didn’t go downtown and if Madison had a single frequent route. So from my perspective, what you’re asking is the equivalent of “Why are you singling me out for giving me a $10,000 check?”. I wish Capitol Hill were being singled out for something this good!
What we’re offering is the freedom to ignore schedules. You simply walk to a bus stop, and in minutes, at any time of day, a bus will arrive. And if that bus doesn’t go to your destination, you’re only one connection away from a bus that does.
Back when I lived in Boston, if I had to wait 10 minutes for a train, it was a *really long time*. Now, I wait 15-20 minutes for a bus as a matter of course. Wouldn’t it be cool if 5 minutes was a long time to wait for a bus? Wouldn’t it be great if, when you transferred buses, you only had to wait 2-3 minutes?
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty darn compelling.
This question is regarding your proposed changes to the #4 bus route and crossing Rainier Avenue to access the stops. Has anyone checked with the city about how need changes could be made? What are they? What would be involved? Why haven’t they been made before this? My only other comment is that probably the most productive use of time and thought would be to analyze how current routes and the neighborhoods and destination points be integrated with the new light rail stations to better connect us with the destinations and with each other. Are there ways in light of the street car on Broadway and light rail station there and at the U to help us all connect well? Neighborhoods need connections not to just the really major destinations but with each other and to neighborhood shopping, schools and services.
Why yes! Bus-light rail integration is frquently discussed on this blog. See Madrona resident Zach Shaner’s proposal for Capitol Hill/CD. I think you’ll like some of the ideas in that post.
Hi Oran, well some of it seems interesting. I don’t have time to examine it all. In all fairness doesn’t that plan eliminate the current #12 as it is known. The #49 isn’t really eliminated at least between the U and Broadway it is replaced by the 12. Why not just propose eliminating the #12 and redesigning the #49.
I hope that at leas the 48 would be planned to access the north side of the UW Hospital and then continue along 15th Avenue NE to 45th. I think that some will miss the 43 route to the hospital. And, again I don’t agree with your plans for the #2 and #11. Under the plan presented the number #11 and #2 duplicate each other on Madison toward downtown. Currently, they complement each other and access to the library is less desirable under the plan you present. Remember that both riders of the #11 an #2 now have direct access to some part of the downtown retail core and you are taking that away. I know I have appointments there and in Belltown and having to exit the #2 and transfer will be very irritating. 3rd and Madison is not a destination. And for some contemplating the #2 to the ferry is a waste. How many #2 riders want to go to the ferry terminal? You may wonder who rides the #2, but at least the part of the route from Madrona to Belltown is well-used and fills in some gaps at the Central Library and along Spring and Seneca that would exist under the plan presented on the page to which you directed me.
There are times that I really think that on some of the routes like the #2 the current peak hour service is a sort of joke. In order for it to exist even for an hour or so at the beginning and ends of the peak hour service is reduced to every 20 minutes from the regular every 15 minutes. I say just give me regular every 15 minute service a little later in the evening and forget the current peak hour.
Route numbers are not important. The 12 creates a long direct route from Beacon Hill to the U District, just like the 48 does from Mt Baker. That’s exciting to me.
I agree because there’s demand for people coming from the south to UW and the vicinity. Then the northern part of the 48 can be split off and merged with another route, improving reliability on the southern part.
Yes, they will have to transfer but in exchange they get significantly more frequent service across the board which makes transferring very easy.
A reason for not making buses like the 2 turn and continue up 3rd is that doing so makes all bus service on 3rd slower and less reliable. There’s no separate left turn lane on 3rd to Union or Madison. Therefore if a bus turns there it blocks a lane, slowing everyone down. That’s also why it’s proposed to move the 3/4 to Yesler as there’s a dedicated turn lane to Yesler from 3rd.
Don’t fall into the trap of considering only current riders. The combined 2/11 will make access to/from the ferry terminal to the west of Downtown up the hill very easy, plus connecting to all the crosstown routes like the 8, new 12,, and 48 with a single transfer.
I’d say they compliment each other. Under the plan, each line runs every 12 minutes. Combined on the common section between 12th Ave and downtown means a bus on Madison every 6 minutes, where demand is greatest. That’s incredible frequency unheard of at present.
Current residents and users need to be considered since they will still be a good portion of the ridership of the #2. Do you have some numbers that indicate the #2 is not well-used as is. One advantage of the new payment system will be that where people board downtown will be more obvious. Under the current system the Orca card can see (I think) the stops that are used outside of the ride-free area but not within it. Why couldn’t a left turn dedicated lane be developed at Spring to answer this need if one exists at Yesler? The #2 turns left onto Spring from 3rd.
What is the demand between 12th and downtown compared to the rest of the route?
As for the on-time-information that you have. How much is it due to construction, accidents, and maintenance issues? Problems related to construction will be solved when construction ends. Those related to accidents might be mitigated by new buses that can go a bit off wire, maintenance issues should be decreased with the new trolleys.
Personally, I think that 15 minute frequency is a joke, too, especially for a corridor as widely-used as Madison, or Union, or Jefferson. That’s why I think these proposals are so great. When you have a route or a corridor with 5-minute frequency, then your average wait for a bus will be 2-3 minutes. Transferring isn’t so bad when you know that you’ll only have to spend a couple of minutes waiting.
Construction never ends. Once one project stops, another begins. That’s just life in a growing city.
One change that’s been discussed is extending the 10 four blocks to the east, adding a stop at 19th and Galer. This change would provide direct service from much of Capitol Hill to Stevens. More generally, it would mean that people living near 19th Ave would have a level walk to a convenient bus stop.
The buses (well, many of them, at least) are currently equipped with automatic passenger counting devices, so we already know how many people are boarding and disembarking at each stop, even if they aren’t paying fares. Bruce gets that data from Metro (sometimes it’s a few years old) and has been using it to make his charts since June. I know he’s made a chart for the 3, 4, 8, 10/12 36, and last but most definitely least, the42
He hasn’t posted a chart for the 2 yet, although people’ve been asking for it. I can only assume they’re pretty time consuming to make. However, other east-west routes in the area that he has charted (like the 10 & 12 on Pine and Madison, respectively) have massive ridership explosions between 12th and Downtown. Passenger loads on those sections are double or triple what they are for the rest of the routes.
I think it’s safe to assume the 2’s data follows a similar pattern, although it’s tail through the CD probably draws higher ridership than the 12 does on 19th. Metro has talked about consolidating all the nearby east-west routes onto Madison, with staggered schedules so there’s something like 5-minute service on Madison between downtown and 12th ave, and the individual routes forking off to their separate destinations past that point.
What other nearby routes are there? Surely they aren’t proposing moving the 3/4 or the Pike/Pine buses. So isn’t it just the 2 (and/or the 13)?
“Why couldn’t a left turn dedicated lane be developed at Spring to answer this need if one exists at Yesler?”
From what I can tell, either the sidewalks on both sides of 3rd (and both sides of the intersection) would have to be narrowed and/or the southbound (and possibly the northbound) bus stop would have to be moved to be able to develop a left turn lane w/o having to remove a lane.
Yup, the pike/pine 10 (theoretically, the 11 would get extra trips to preserve service on Pike) and the 2. It was discussed in the no-$20-CRC service cut scenario, as a way to cut service hours on the 12 without hurting high-demand service across First Hill. Hopefully those frequency cuts won’t happen now, but the City’s HCT study of Madison supports bulking up transit there, and the same service consolidation is a revenue-neutral way to achieve that.
The Madison HCT plan folds in the 11 and the 12, at which point the 10 is the only service left on Pine. So that change doesn’t seem very compelling.
Now we’ve got the 10, 11, and 49 (but the 49 turns on Broadway). If we assume the 43 gets cut when U-link opens, and that one of the 10 or 11 moves to Madison, we can allocate the 43’s service hours to the remaining bus on Pine and maintain existing service levels. I imagine a not-insignificant portion of the Pike/Pine trips will switch to Link once the Capitol Hill station opens, too, lessening pressure on the corridor.
Just one more comment regarding the Capitol Hill plan above. It is probably a mistake to leave Steven’s Elementary with the closest possible bus access at 4 or 5 blocks no matter what direction the approach is.
Thank you, Lack Thereof, I will wait for the actual data since the 2, 3, and 4 come from very different from the 10, 12 and 6 routes. I will look at what is available for the 3 and 4 since you implied that those figures are available. The ridership origins and destinations are very different for the #2 than they are for the 43, and 8. The goal of who the routes serve is very different.
The 4, as configured appears ok and not that bad in ridership. Also how are you handling the the Beacon Hill light rail connecting to the U compared with the new #12 route that you are proposing? How are the neighborhood connections to the light rail if the main purpose of the new #12 that you propose is to connect Beacon Hill to the U? Are there areas in between that need to be connected?
Many already transfer between the 36 and light rail at the Beacon Hill Station. With the new #12, 12th Ave will finally get transit service and have a connection to Capitol Hill Station and Beacon Hill Station. People living in North Capitol Hill along Broadway and 10th Ave E keep their connection to the UW and Capitol Hill Station, while having new connections to 12th Ave and Beacon Hill.
An explanation of the ridership chart format (and data source) is in the posting that accompanied the first chart.
The 4 has strong ridership from downtown to 23rd, but but past there it dwindles down to an average of 5-10 people per bus (compared to 20-30 on the Jefferson street corridor). People are using it, but not many, and there’s already 2 other frequent buses running the same corridor. If it was the only bus within a 5 minute walk, I’d argue to preserve that section, but the 48 & 8 can easily absorb those 5-10 riders, so long as the transfer at the 3 can be made quick enough. This strategy relies on service increasing on the 3 to allow fast transfers. If those riders are just going downtown (rather than to destinations on Jefferson), then the situation’s even better, because there’s a half-dozen different downtown transfer opportunities.
One way we could deal with the situation at Lighthouse for the Blind is to reroute the 48 down Plum (Also mentioned, but quickly forgotten, in Zach’s Capitol Hill/CD plan). That would allow them to still have a front-door stop on Plum, rather than having blind people make an unsignalized crossing of MLK to get to the 8 stop. It also has the side-benefit of allowing the 48 to avoid the congested Rainier-McClellan-MLK zigzag it makes at Mount Baker Transit Center.
I might head down to MLK & Plum today on my scooter today to get a look at what can be done to improve walking conditions for the visually impaired between bus stops and that facility. Although LFtB is not totally blameless here. There’s no sidewalk for much distance in front of their building, to allow for their employee parking spaces directly off of the street. Sidewalks are a tricky one to have added, because Seattle has mostly passed off the responsibility for initially building them to the adjacent property owner (i.e. if a developer wants to build on a street with no sidewalks, he must install sidewalks in front of his project). SDOT rarely builds new sidewalks with city money, unless there’s a massive community movement (like the movement McGinn led in Greenwood before becoming Mayor).
SDOT’s sidewalk budget is tiny, and sidewalks are expensive, generally due to drainage requirements. Despite that, I would say “rarely” is an overstatement; SDOT spends north of $10 million/year on sidewalk projects, and that’s nowhere near all maintenance. The sidewalk backlog in the Pedestrian Master Plan’s Tier 1 section is about $840 million, though, so we definitely have a long ways to go.
Still, this seems like an excellent opportunity to build some new targeted sidewalk to accomplish a couple good goals.
Alternately, we may see some changes around that Mt. Baker triangle to improve transit flow if DPD is successful.
I did go and tour the area last night, and it’s actually much better than my initial impressions from Google Maps. The natural path to the bus stops are fully sidewalked and signalized (with “chirping” signals). There is a 2 block gap in the sidewalks on Plum, but the most sensible walking path to the bus stop doesn’t use that section of street – it goes south on 25th to either Hill or Walker, depending of if you’re using the stops on Rainier or MLK.
The only improvements I can really imagine as being useful down there were straightening a zig-zag in the Walker sidewalk where it crosses a driveway, and lengthening the pedestrian light cycle at the Rainier crossing. It’s an easy 5 minute slow-walk to either stop, and I did see several people in the area (3 of them blind) making those walks. Most people seemed to be opting to walk to the 7 stop rather than wait for the 4 – I only saw one person head for the 4.
I took cell-phone video of the walking path, but didn’t see anything noteworthy in it. I did see 3 different Access vans putting around the neighborhood during the 20-30 minutes I was there, though.
Has anyone considered the idea of making Madison St downtown couple with Spring, rather than Marion? If nothing else, that would provide better access to the DSTT and the Central Library…
It makes getting back onto Madison ever-so-slightly trickier at 7th or 8th, but still doable. With Marion/Madison, there’s no left turns across traffic, and Marion/6th is set up for an automatic merge back onto Madison
Well, if it would decrease reliability, then nevermind. I didn’t realize that Marion was structured that way. (I guess it makes sense, though, given that Marion doesn’t cross I-5.)
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